There is a kind of personality hiccup that I find seriously annoying: people who compulsively say “I’m sorry.” These puppy-dog-eyed cringing sorts apologize for everything possible, whether or not it has anything at all to do with them, or their actions. Examples:

Me: God, what shitty weather today!
Sorrier: I’m so sorry!
Me: Hah??

Me: Could you move over just a little here, please?
Sorrier: Oh! I am so so sorry! I’ll leave!
Me: No no, I just need like four inches more of butt space.
Sorrier: Oh, no, please, I can go, here, please, SIT!

Me: So you need me to bring a plate of cookies to the meeting?
Sorrier: I am SO SORRY, if you can’t do it, I can, I am SO SORRY to ask you.
Me: Um, it’s no big deal, really. Not at all.
Sorrier: I just hate asking, so sorry!

Me: I think I am getting a cold.
Sorrier: Oh, that is awful! I am so sorry to hear that!
Me: Well, it’s been going around.
Sorrier: It’s SO AWFUL for you!

Me: Do you know what time it is?
Sorrier: Oh god, NO, I’m sorry! Let me go find a clock!
Me: No, wait! I can just ask that guy. He has a watch. It’s just that I thought you might have one…
Sorrier: Oh, I don’t! I am so sorry!
Me: Well, it’s OK.
Sorrier: I really should know. I apologize.

Alright, I would not have said that last line aloud, but I would be thinking it.

I have a theory about the Sorrier. I think this is a trait passed down from parent to child, in the guise of good manners, humility, and compassion. But that is not it. Dig deeper, says my mind. What is it that the Sorrier wishes to get back from constantly apologizing? All actions have some kind of payoff.

The apologizing, seemingly a submissive move, is in fact the opposite. It is a way, albeit very odd and sneaky, to gain favor and power. If I defer to you in every way, you must like me. If I seem weak, I gain more of your help. If I am always asking for forgiveness, you are always invested in my redemption. If I seem passive and meek, insecure and cowed, and you believe me, the day I am not is the day I can push you over with a feather.

Phony. The Sorrier is filled with anger. Count on it.

Of course, compared with all the jerks who should say they are sorry and never do, the Sorrier is a very rare type. To be genuinely sorry for something you have done that has caused some kind of real pain or problem and to be able to convey that fully, meaningfully, and not 50 YEARS LATER, is a big deal, and can make all the difference in the world to someone. It is a really, really tough thing to do. But sometimes, many times, it is the only way to make things right. And even if the problem seems too big for your sorry to cover, do it anyway. It is not always about you or your comfort, or to judge the value. Just put it out there.

Marianne’s Lesson Of The Day: Take more time to say you are sorry, or thankful, or that you love someone. Just not tooooo much. Don’t be creepy or anything.


Dig The Easybeats.